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BRICS Bank Consortium to Research Blockchain Applications

A consortium of state-owned development banks plan to research blockchain technology for international transactions and other products, Russia-based Vnesheconombank said Thursday.

Vnesheconombank, the Brazilian Development Bank, the Export-Import Bank of India, the China Development Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa signed an agreement to conduct research on how they can use blockchain research to develop a digital economy, according to a press release.

These national development banks are generally tasked with supporting economic development in a nation. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are also often referred to as “BRICS” as a group of nations with emerging economies.

In the release, Vnesheconombank first deputy chairman Mikhail Poluboyarinov said the BRICS nations’ development banks collaborate “in a range of key areas,” which include improving financial cooperation between the nations and developing credit card financing tools for national currencies.

The research would also examine how to implement any new innovations, he said.

He added:

“This joint work opens new opportunities for Russian exporters, operators of large industrial projects, recipients of investments. The current agreement allows the development banks of BRICS countries to study the applications of innovative technologies in infrastructure finance and bank products optimization.”

Details about the research, including when the banks expect to begin the research project, were not available at press time.

BRICS flags image via Shutterstock

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Russian Businessman Buys Power Stations For Crypto Mining

China has long been a cryptocurrency mining stronghold due to low power tariffs and many large mining operations have set up shop nearby power stations.

It seems this theme is spilling over to Russia, where the first instance of power stations being bought by investors to house cryptocurrency mining operations is being reported.

According to RT, Russian businessman Aleksey Kolesnik has all but confirmed buying two power stations for cryptocurrency mining operations in the future – citing a report from local newspaper Kommersant.

The two power plants based in Perm and Udmurtia, regions roughly 1,200 km East of Moscow, will be refurbished into a data center and mining operation.

Kolesnik paid around $3 mln for the two power stations – although its uncertain if and when the plans to start mining cryptocurrency will go ahead.

The credibility of the project and its future is in the hands of the Russian government, which has made headway in its outlook on cryptocurrencies in the country.

Late last week, local media reported that Russia’s finance ministry had officially drafted a bill that would legalize the trade of cryptocurrencies on regulated exchanges in the country.

This also comes after President Vladimir Putin proposed the creation of a multinational cryptocurrency that is intended to be adopted by BRICS and EEU members.

It is expected that Russia will legalize and regulate cryptocurrency trade in the country by July 2018, while mining and trading crypto will also be taxed.

Expect more preeminent moves

Russia certainly hasn’t wasted time moving to establish formal regulation of the use of cryptocurrency in the country over the past year.

While miners and traders have gone about their merry way, the government has played catch-up over the past 12 months, especially after Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in value.

The past month has not been kind on the cryptocurrency market, with wild volatility an everyday occurrence. However, that has not stopped the massive influx of users looking to trade cryptocurrency.

Having giving clarity in the direction it wants to take in December, cryptocurrency traders and miners in Russia know what to expect – with a ban ruled out completely.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see more big mining operations pop up in the country as demand for cryptocurrency grows – which inevitably puts more strain on the network.

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BRICS to Discuss Cryptocurrency as Alternative to National Currencies

BRICS member states could create a cryptocurrency to function “as an alternative to other payment instruments.”

According to Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, investments in the bloc, which consists of Russia, India, South Africa, China and Brazil, is set to increase up to fourfold within the next three years.

“One other topic we’re discussing on the financial committee is cryptocurrency,” he told journalists quoted by Russian news outlet RIA Novosti.

“It may even be possible to discuss creating a BRICS cryptocurrency as an alternative to other financial instruments, and that’s what’s being debated as part of the BRICS Business Council.”

National currencies currently form the medium of exchange from cross-bloc settlements, changes to which are a topic of interest due among other things to the increasing strength of the US dollar.

Russia itself is busy preparing its own centralized cryptocurrency, which has been informally dubbed the “BitRuble” or “CryptoRuble.”

“[…] Cryptocurrencies are also becoming a point of discussion as a possible settlements mechanism,” Dmitriev continued.

“It may be wholly called for, for specific settlements and could be a good alternative to the dollar and other settlement methods.”

National governments in Russia, India and South Africa, in particular, are seeing huge increases in cryptocurrency interest from citizens, with Russia appearing to respond with threats of banning access for unauthorized citizens.

South Africa recently registered as the country googling ‘Bitcoin’ the most per capita.